Out with the old, in with the new

Danielle hopes ATM will contribute towards a greener future

This time-honoured phrase feels particularly relevant to the Middle East’s travel sector right now, as tourism, hospitality and events professionals from across the region continue to shift from ‘business as usual’ to more sustainable practices.

It’s for this reason that sustainable travel will represent the central focus of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023, the theme of which is ‘Working Towards Net Zero’. Taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from May 1 to 4, the 30th edition of ATM will see public and private sector experts from every corner of the planet gather in the UAE to help shape the decarbonised future of global travel.

A diverse selection of sustainable measures will be explored and accelerated during ATM 2023, spanning the entire spectrum of our sector. Even so, there are a number of areas that I feel will not only represent core topics during this year’s show, but which are likely to set the agenda for Middle East travel throughout the course of the year.

Greener airlines, for instance, will be front and centre, as aviation companies continue to invest in cutting-edge innovations to help minimise their environmental impact. Middle East-based airlines are playing a leading role in this respect, with Etihad Airways receiving the Centre of Aviation’s (CAPA) most recent Environmental Sustainability Innovation of the Year Award for its progress towards net-zero targets, and Qatar Airways boosting its waste reduction and water conservation efforts considerably during the past year.

Eco hotels and resorts are likely to represent another highlight at ATM 2023, as the hospitality industry pushes ahead with initiatives designed to minimise environmental impact at ground level. Energy-efficient lighting and utilities, environmentally friendly maintenance and the elimination of single-use plastics are likely to enjoy significant attention during this year’s show and beyond.

Sustainable attractions and activities, meanwhile, look set to grab a significant share of the headlines in 2023, as well as the ever-increasing prioritisation of locally sourced produce within the region’s food and beverage (F&B) sector.

And, of course, the national frameworks that are underpinning sustainable progress within our industry will also receive significant attention. From our host emirate’s innovative learning platform, Dubai Way, to the Oman 2040 Tourism Strategy and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, decision-makers will be on hand throughout ATM 2023 to share fresh insights into how private sector operators can support the GCC’s globally important strategies and initiatives.

In keeping with its central theme of ‘Working Towards Net Zero’, ATM’s exhibitor awards will also feature a sustainability category for the first time this year. Prize winners will be selected based on the extent to which they consider the environmental impact of their stands, as well as their efforts to reduce or offset their carbon footprints.

By focusing the attention of our exhibitors, delegates and attendees on sustainability, we aim to showcase how the Middle East’s travel sector is driving decarbonisation while providing a knowledge-exchange forum in which further advances can be achieved. And make no mistake, progress within these areas has never been more crucial with tourism-related activities accounting for approximately 8 per cent of worldwide carbon emissions, according to research from Sustainable Travel International.

Moreover, WTTC’s recently unveiled pioneering research which detailed ground breaking data and tool on accurately measuring the climate footprint of the global travel and tourism sector, revealed the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions totalled 8.1 per cent globally.

Ultimately, I hope ATM 2023 will provide a platform for experts from across the Middle East and beyond to explore.